Last Wednesday evening I was in my hospital bed, contemplating, and it occurred to me: I have turned the corner. I don’t know if there was anything rational about it; the realization just descended on me. Part of it was that my swallow had recovered enough to let me swallow my own saliva. I was no longer tied to a suction tube to periodically clean out my mouth.
Thursday morning my surgical team trooped in, beaming, and said that I was doing so great that I would be discharged that very day. I was surprised, and could not help suspecting that Dr. Griffin had lost an argument with my insurance company. Regardless, once my sister arrived that afternoon, we got a great deal of instruction of how care should continue at her house. Understand: I was airlifted to Murray, Utah, for surgery, because there aren’t that many surgeons capable of the delicate surgery of clearing out an upper chest abscess associated with a torn esophagus. Lori, my sister, lives in Orem which is a heck of a lot closer to Murray than Los Alamos is. So her home will be my outpatient ward for the time being.
Lori has been a real trooper. It helps that we have always been close. I’m presently still getting antibiotic by IV 24 hours a day, so she’s learned how to set up an IV line. I’m also getting tube feeding 24 hours a day. I may be finished with antibiotics sometime this week, or at least IV antibiotics, and if I then go to cycle feeding (12 hours a day at twice the rate) I’ll be mostly untethered most of the day. That will help me increase my physical activity,
Well, except the oxygen line. In my chair, I can maintain a 94% oxygen saturation without the oxygen, but when I’ve walked any distance without it, my saturation has dropped into the 80s — dangerously low. So my lungs are still recovering from the accident and from my chest surgery. It does not help that I have some damage to the chest wall, including three partially healed broken ribs and an incision. The incision must have nicked a nerve; I have a sizable zone of numbness on my chest, with the area around it hypersensitive.
The great challenges now are to learn how to swallow again and to regain strength. I have some fears that I will never regain enough stamina for long hikes, but I’ll certainly try. Right now I’d like the stamina to go once around the block; presently I stretch myself walking to the bathroom and touring my sister’s house on the way back.
Once I had my A1C consistently below 5.7 with diet, exercise, and Metformin. Now I’m trying to keep my blood sugar below 140 with insulin, which I’ve never used before. (Brother, can you spare a dime?)
I’ll get there. My immediate goal is to get off the antibiotics and the oxygen line. Longer term, I hope to be home in New Mexico for Thanksgiving. We’ll see what the doctors say.